Every month I intend to bring a spotlight on one cyclist from around the world. I introduce the cyclist briefly by talking about their major accomplishments and do a rapid-fire question and answer segment.
This month I am featuring Chirag Shah – a young cycling entrepreneur and an activist from Thane city in India.
Chirag Shah is the Bicycle Mayor of Thane city. He gave up his corporate job in 2019 and entered bicycle business by opening a shop in Thane city called “1817 The Bicycle House”. The first bicycle is estimated to be invented in the year 1817 by German inventor Karl von Drais hence Chirag selected this name for his cycle shop which has a direct connection with history.
Chirag is also one of the Admin of “Wheels and Barrels”, one of Mumbai’s oldest cycling clubs. The club has more than thousand members representing varied professionals from different demographic groups . The club members meet every month and are closely connected on issues and resolutions pertaining to the cause of cycling.
In 2018, Chirag was instrumental in starting a women’s cycle training program “Mein Chalaungi” (I shall ride) and has so far trained hundreds of cyclists empowering them to gain independence in active mobility.
Since the last couple of years, Chirag has also introduced the popular international event “Fancy Women’s Bike Ride” with a Thane franchise. The event was led by her colleague Shalini Rathore and has been a huge success with active participation from the local community.
Most recently, Wheels and Barrels group has launched “Project Roshini” which involves free distribution of lights to livelihood cyclists in the city. On the inaugural week, Team Wheels and Barrels Chirag, Shalini, Sarbpreet and Siddharth has successfully distributed more than 50 lights and reflectors to the needy cyclists and aims to increase the number through crowdfunding.
Moreover, Wheels and Barrels group led by the team frequently participates in the local cycling events and organizes critical mass rides on important days like the World Bicycle Day, Care-Free Day, Women’s Day ride, Independence Day ride etc.
Chirag’s vision is to make Thane a cycle friendly city and is closely working with the local administration to bring in the desired change.
Rapid fire segment with Chirag Shah:
Which bicycle do you currently use?
I use couple of bikes – Hero Sprint Wayfarer 8-year-old MTB primarily with an intent to promote Indian bikes. Secondly, I use Veloce Urban 4.0 hybrid bike which I recently bought.
Which cycling group do you ride with?
Wheels and Barrels cycling club Thane – Oldest Cycling community in Thane.
One place/route you regularly ride? and your longest ride?
Eastern Express Highway and my longest in one stretch is 214 Kms. And longest is 300 Kms in 30 hours Thane to Surat – solo ride.
Who inspires you in the cycling industry?
I get Inspired by everyone who cycles in the city especially I feel super happy when I see newbies joining the community and now a days, I am a fan of all the people who are cycling to work.
Casual or Lycra, what type of clothing do you prefer?
For community ride I prefer lycra and for commute purpose I can ride in semi-formals
Which was your 1st bicycle?
Honestly, I don’t remember but vaguely it was a hero cycle.
Your favorite cycling quote?
It’s a slogan – Cycle Chalao Desh Bachao (Ride a bicycle and save the nation).
One change you would like to see for cyclist’s?
Mindset and behavior change towards cyclist. In the absence of the cycling infrastructure, we are not safe most of the times and there is lack of respect. I wish for the day when this changes, and the number of accidents will go down drastically.
You can follow Chirag on Instagram: @1817thebicyclehouse and @chiragshah301988
Photo credits: Chirag Shah
You might also like to read: MY HYDERABAD DIARY
Author: Vijay Malhotra, Mumbai.